The troops have been reassigned by commanders, who have not sought additional combat troops to replace them. While the troops have not been through the special program for trainers set up by the military, they are working in their areas of expertise, commanders said.I suppose that's relatively positive news. They're focusing on Baghdad first, so let's see how that goes. I don't think it could help too much, but it seems like the right direction to take things.
Gen. John P. Abizaid, the top American commander in the Middle East, told Congress last month that he envisioned doubling the number of American trainers, but senior military officers now say they are drawing up plans that would at least triple the number of troops assigned to training.
Blurring Political Lines in the Military Debate (NY Times News Analysis, Michael Gordon)
The stupid thing about this is that there was no rationale for the debate becoming bipolarized in the first place. With such a complicated and multifaceted issue, there was no reason for there to be "two sides." or for clear political lines. I think the Democrats demonstrated that pretty well, since they were unable to come to any particular conclusion and had 4-5 different takes you could hear regularly. So in otherwords, such blurring is long overdue. General Zinni, mentioned in the article, has written a report for the World Security Institute with his own ideas about how to improve Iraq.
Bush Urges Shiite Leader to Support Premier (NY Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg)
President Bush met Monday with Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, one of the most powerful Shiite leaders in Iraq, and urged him to “reject the extremists that are trying to stop the advance of this young democracy.”Well, obviously that can't be bad, but remember that said polititian is leader of SCIRI (The Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq) and has a major militia called the Badr Corps, and here's what their own website says:
SCIRI has secret cells all over Iraq which are involved in gathering information, media work and military activities. (now to the wiki article:) Its members have entered the new Iraqi army and police force en masse and gained virtual control of Iraq’s Interior Ministry. Currently based in and around Karbala, the Badr Organization effectively rules that city and other parts of southern Iraq.And in a related article (Iraqi Shiite Leader Speaks Bluntly in Washington, WP, Robin Wright and Peter Baker) we see the following quotation:
"The strikes [the insurgents] are getting from the multinational forces are not hard enough to put an end to their acts, but leave them to stand up again to resume their criminal acts," Hakim said in a speech at the United States Institute of Peace. "This means that there is something wrong in the policies taken to deal with that danger threatening the lives of Iraqis."
The only way to eliminate the danger of a civil war, he added, was through "decisive strikes" against insurgents once loyal to former leader Saddam Hussein. "Otherwise we'll continue to witness massacres . . . against innocent Iraqis."
So yeah. Moving on:
This is definitely bad news fro me, if they learn well enough. Or perhaps good news, if I'm always on the more experienced end of this coming wave of people competing for my job.
NASA Plans Permanent Moon Base (NY Times, Warren E. Leary)
That sounds pretty cool.
U.S. Army Battling To Save Equipment; Gear Piles Up at Depots, Awaiting Repair (WP, Ann Scott Tyson)
Well obviously that's no good.
Lawyers Demand Release of Chinese Muslims; Court Documents Allege Lengthy Detainment at Guantanamo Is Part of Deal With Beijing (WP, Josh White)
Possibly true, possibly some good just good lawyering.
House to Consider Abortion Anesthesia Bill; Conservatives Vow More Tests for Democrats on Social Issues When Congress Returns (WP, Jonathan Weisman)
See, that's just like them, to wait until they're almost out of power to try that crap. By the way, where do they get off making scientific declarations as the basis for a law? The whole topic is still hotly debated by doctors, but Congress wants to require the doctor to say there is "substantial evidence" the fetus would feel pain. Still, it's politically quite smart, as the article points out, because it will divide the Democratic caucus.
In a parting gesture by social conservatives before Republicans relinquish control, House leaders plan to bring up a bill tomorrow that would declare that fetuses feel pain and require abortion providers to offer pregnant patients anesthesia for their unborn child.
Offering Video, Israel Answers Critics on War (NY Times, Greg Myre)
Israel’s military, which has been accused of abuses in its war against Hezbollah this summer, has declassified photographs, video images and prisoner interrogations to buttress its accusation that Hezbollah systematically fired from civilian neighborhoods in southern Lebanon and took cover in those areas to shield itself from attack.I'm a bit blown away by this, since it seems perfectly obvious that Hezbollah would do that (and it is a war crime, btw), and since it cannot possibly justify the destruction of whole neighborhoods, buildings with large numbers of civilians, land mine planting or cluster bomb dropping. The Israeli military also takes cover at civilian sites or uses human shields while operating in Gaza and the West Bank. Those war crimes are all well documented.